The Property

It is important that you look at a few things on your property before getting cattle. The breed is pretty easy to become smitten with and sometimes one can rush in before being set up for Highlands, or any cattle for that matter.

Fences need to be good and ideally electrified (we highly recommend this). A single stand-off wire on an average fence will rarely be challenged by cattle, even by most bulls with a heifer on heat on the other side. All cattle want to rub to scratch themselves and if there are not sufficient rocks or trees to rub on, fence posts make a good alternative. Over time, this will weaken the fence and even snap off fence posts.
Consider also breaking your property up into smaller paddocks (at least 3-4 for the smallest of properties) so that you can move the cattle around. This helps the pasture to rest and aids in the management of intestinal worms.

A single standoff insulator with electrified wire
on a standard post & wire fence.
A wood insulator with an
electrified wire.
A fibreglass post with 2 electric wires
(sufficient for nearly all classes of cattle).

Handling cattle is only required a couple of times a year for the hobby farmer but when you need to do something with them it is critical that you can do so safely. If you do not have something set up, or you can not use a neighbours facilities, have a look at this article (Yard Design) for some ideas for cattle yards for Highlands. For smaller properties there are some quite simple designs that can be used, but it all still needs to be in place before you get your animals.

We all love this breed for their history, horns and hair, and this latter characteristic will see them struggle more in the warmer weather than short haired cattle. Shade is terribly important for their comfort over summer in all but the coldest of climates in Australia. Access to shade trees in each paddock or even a dam to wallow in will make your Highlands happier, and more productive. While they do shed their coat dramatically over summer (Read More about the differences), all cattle appreciate some shade.

This might seem obvious but it needs to be fresh and clean. Clean trough water is ideal (from the dam, tank, bore or even town supply). Open dams are adequate but studies have found that cattle drink more water, and have slightly better growth rates, if they drink dam water pumped to a clean trough compared with drinking from the dam itself.

While it is well known that Highlands thrive where other breeds often struggle, they still need a certain amount of feed to maintain condition and especially to breed. Check with your neighbours (a local, experienced farmer is ideal) as to the stocking rate for your locality. This may vary from one cow/calf per acre, to one per 4-5 acres (or one per 10-20 acres for poorer areas of Australia). Over stocking will mean that animals will struggle to maintain condition, unless you hand feed them, which can be a costly exercise depending on the year and hay prices.

Scratching Posts
This is a little extra for Highlands that all other cattle breeds appreciate as well. Lice can be a problem over winter that will make them very itchy and will see them rub a lot of hair out, but a scratching post in each paddock will make your Highlands very happy. A tree or tree stump, fallen down tree, large rock or anything that can withstand 500-1,000kg of weight rubbed against it repeatedly will do. I have even seen old brushes from street cleaning trucks used to pleasure Highlands.